02 January 2015, 8am
Bournemouth Marathon Festival
Sun 5 October 2014
With miles of glorious, unspoilt golden sands and clear blue sea, Bournemouth and Poole provide a stunning backdrop for the ultimate run in a pure and clean natural environment: running as it should be.
After last year’s inaugural event the Bournemouth Marathon Festival has established itself on the UK running calendar — and the 2014 event was bigger and better. The full weekend of events attracted around 10,500 runners with thousands more lining the course to support Saturday’s Speed of Light 5km, Supersonic 10km and junior races, as well as Sunday’s half marathon, which follows the same course as the pinnacle event, the marathon.
At 10.00 Steve Way, inspirational hometown hero and former overweight smoker who represented England at this year’s Commonwealth Games, got the marathon under way in King’s Park just minutes after finishing second in the half marathon.
From King’s Park runners make their way down Seabourne Road then along Broadway towards the Southbourne Coast Road. Runners return along the coast road and make their way onto Undercliff Drive, taking in some magnificent views and filling their lungs with the refreshing sea air. They run past Boscombe Pier, built in 1889, which has recently undergone a £2.4 million restoration project. It was declared “Britain’s coolest pier” by Wayne Hemingway MBE in 2009. In 2010 Boscombe Pier was voted “Pier of the Year” by the National Piers Society.
Runners go past the historic Savoy Hotel, opened in 1912, and onto Western Overhill Drive, which involves a slight ascent before they come back down onto the promenade for some more beautiful beach running.
The climatic finale comes as runners approach the second, more iconic, Bournemouth Pier. First constructed in 1856, the pier has undergone numerous transformations over the years, with the addition of the Bournemouth Pier Theatre in 1959. Framed by the Isle of Wight on one side and the Purbeck Hills on the other, the pier was attacked by Teredo Worm in 1866 and the wooden piles were removed in favour of cast iron replacements, but even with this improvement the life of this pier was short. Just one year later it was rendered unusable when the T-shaped landing stage was swept away in a gale. Eugenius Birch designed the replacement 255m iron pier at a cost of £21,600. It opened on 11 August 1880. Covered shelters and a bandstand were added to the pier head in 1855, followed by extensions in 1894 and 1905. The new landing stage increased the pier’s length to 305m. Bournemouth Pier attracts more than half a million visitors every year.
Marathon debutant Andrew Lesuuda beat last year’s winner Ebisa Merga of Ethiopia into second place by nearly four minutes. Leading British runner Andrew Clark of the local Poole Runners club, followed in third, 15 minutes behind.
Lesuuda, who has paced several marathons but never raced the full distance, said: “I am very happy. This is my first marathon and my biggest success so far. I would love to come back and defend next year.”
Kateryna Stetsenko was the first female to cross the line, keeping the title in Ukrainian hands for the second successive year, following compatriot Olha Kotovska’s victory last year. Stetsenko’s time was just under a minute slower than last year’s winning time.
Afterwards, Stetsenko said: “It is my best time in two years. The race was good – very flat, with very nice support from people and good weather.”
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival had large contingents of charity runners who unfailingly bring enthusiasm, colour and excitement to the festival. An estimated $750,000 was raised for good causes by runners taking part in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. Among the charity runners were Joe Elliot, Chris Spencer and David Withers who completed the ‘grand slam’ of 5km, 10km, half marathon and marathon races.
Others took part in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival as part of their ongoing endurance challenges including Steve Gill who completed his 24th half marathon in as many weeks as part of his project to finish 52 half marathons in 52 weeks in a record combined time. And the incomparable Steve Edwards completed his 652nd marathon of the 1000 he targets as a lifetime total.